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Community focussed future for much loved park

by KMBC

Knowsley Council announced it is joining forces with One Knowsley (formerly KCVS), Court Hey Park Friends’ Group and other partners to develop plans to bring the site of the former National Wildflower Centre back to life.

The site, located within Court Hey Park in Huyton, has been unoccupied since Landlife who operated the Centre closed its door in 2017.

Cllr Graham Morgan commented

We were naturally very disappointed when the Wildflower Centre closed and we were really keen to identify a new use for the buildings on site. It is evident just how much our residents value our parks and open spaces and Court Hey Park is no exception. After looking to see what ideas private sector partners might have about the future uses of the buildings on site we decided to look again at this project. Their ideas simply didn’t meet our aspirations for the site, our residents deserved better and therefore we decided to look at options that we felt would put our community firmly at the heart of any future plans.

 

“After speaking to One Knowsley and the Friends’ Of the Park group it was clear that they shared our appetite to develop the site into a real community asset. In the process encouraging more people into the park, providing more opportunities for our community to come together and also considering options to open the park up more to organisations like schools, community groups, local social enterprises and even the Council’s own adult services team. The opportunities are endless and I personally am really excited to see what ideas and plans come together in the coming months.”

Initial thinking includes the relocation of the council’s Social Care team to the site along with One Knowsley who work to support the voluntary, community, faith and social businesses across the borough.

Community gardening charity Incredible Edible will be reclaiming some of the garden space and restoring the centre’s poly-tunnels in order for local people to come together to grow their own fruit and vegetables, eat more healthily, learn a new skills and socialise.

The council also plans to create artist studios in the site’s outbuildings to sit alongside bike charity Pedal Away and Social Enterprise MerseyCycle.

Bob Dutton from Friends of Court Hey Park said

“We’ve worked closely with councillors and the council on these plans and we are delighted that the wheels are in motion to bring this area of the park back into use. The Friends of Court Hey Park group are deeply committed to promoting, conserving and developing the park and encouraging more people to use its beautiful grounds. We believe that this ambitious and timely project will do just that.”

Racheal Jones, Chief Operating Officer at One Knowsley said

“We’re really excited to be part of the revitalisation of the National Wildflower Centre site. As an organisation who works so closely with communities and social enterprise, having a presence in the park will present unique opportunities to link in with a huge number of voluntary and not-for-profit organisations and provide them with opportunities to utilise the spaces available for the benefit of the local community. This initiative is a great example of Knowsley working better together.”

Terry Redman, director of MerseyCycle said

“With the development of the site we plan to grow our community offer to public whilst continuing to recycle bicycles. We are delighted to be part of this forward step for Court Hey Park.

Anyone wishing to be involved in the project or take up space within the site should contact Chris Birtles, Environmental Management Officer on 0151 443 2480